Most women feel happiness at the prospect of becoming a mother. Some may feel shocked if the pregnancy is unplanned. When nothing is really visible it can sometimes be hard to believe that something is growing inside you at all. You usually can’t wait for the pregnancy to start showing. It’s like having a really special secret. The first trimester of pregnancy (first three calendar months) is a vital phase as this is when your baby is developing. This is the stage when the foetus is most vulnerable to harmful substances such as alcohol, tobacco, drugs and environmental pollutants, as well as viruses and illnesses experienced by the mother.
- Organise your first antenatal visit.
- Avoid substances that could harm your developing baby, such as alcohol, tobacco, drugs, medications and caffeine. Do not take any medication that has not been prescribed by your caregiver.
- Start taking vitamin supplements including folic acid.
- Contact your medical aid and find out about their maternity programmes.
- Be very aware of what foods make you feel nauseous and avoid them.
- Go for your first check-up and enjoy seeing your "blob" on the ultrasound scan.
- Stop wearing tampons and notify your caregiver if you have any itching or burning in the vagina.
- Fatigue is common so nap whenever you can take the time out in the office to stretch away from your desk.
- Talk to your doctor about what tests are necessary and when they will be done.
- Brisk walking in the early evening or morning will increase your energy.
If you have been waiting impatiently for your pregnancy to “show”, this is going to happen in the next three months. Pregnancy nausea usually eases off in this trimester and, best of all, your fatigue lifts and your libido increases. You will feel your baby move for the first time and many women feel their best during these three months.
- Get advice on diet and exercise. Pregnancy is not a time to lose weight, but weight control is an issue.
- Give in to those messages from your body telling you to rest and put your feet up.
- Sign up for a prenatal exercise class. This is great because ever yone feels and looks like you do.
- Eliminate unnecessary chores and ask for help when you need it.
- Notify your employer of your pregnancy.
- Ask about your rights at work and what maternity benefits are available.
- Make sure your working environment is safe and make any necessary adjustments if it is not.
- Schedule an appointment with your dentist and oral hygienist if you have not already done so.
- Keep all your prenatal checkup appointments – even if you are feeling fine.
- Watch your posture – bad posture can lead to backache.
As you move into the final stretch of pregnancy, you may feel quite large already and find it hard to believe that there’s still another ten weeks or so of growing to do. You are likely to start to feel Braxton Hicks contractions if you haven’t already.
- At 35 weeks start doing perineal massage in order to prepare your pelvic floor for birth.
- Pack your bag for the hospital and check the shortest route there in traffic. Many nervous dads have lost their way, even when they know it well.
- Finish the final touches to the nursery –or try to.
- Delegate the hard work to others.
- Make a list of who you have to phone or SMS to announce the good news.
- Take a picture as you enter your final trimester.
- Your appetite may be ferocious at this time. Be sure to eat good quality foods.
- Go about your day as normal but sleep or rest as often as you can.
- Start your childbirth education classes. They let you explore your feelings about birth and parenthood.
- Practise your breathing.
- Keep doing your pelvic floor exercises.